New Sage Grouse Plan
The Trump administration wants to ease protections on sage-grouse habitat across the West, opening up millions of acres to drilling, mining and other resource extraction.
The Interior Department has released proposals in seven of the 11 states, where the 2015 Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan is currently in place.
Ken Rait with The Pew Charitable Trusts' Public Lands Program says the proposal eliminates 80-percent of the 11-million acres of habitat protected from oil and gas development under the current plan.
"This administration is focused on reducing any kinds of restrictions on energy development, and now we see tens of millions of acres of sage-grouse habitat falling victim."
He also notes the 2015 plans did not eliminate oil and gas development.
"The BLM is choosing to up-end scientifically based, locally supported plans to benefit the energy development industry, for whom four-fifths of the public lands are not enough."
The protected habitat is important for about 350 western species in the so-called sagebrush sea. The Interior Department says the move comes at the request of states for more flexibility on public lands. The agency will accept public comments on amending the 2015 plan through January 8th.